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Proposed bill would limit HOA's ability to regulate flags, signs based on subject, message, content

Commercial messages may be prohibited
BLM Flag
Posted at 1:07 AM, May 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-30 03:07:35-04

DENVER -- A bill limiting an HOA's ability to determine which flags are okay, and which ones are not, is sailing through the State Legislature.

House Bill 21-1310 passed unanimously in the House Transportation and Local Government Committee and was approved on Third Reading in the House by a 50 to 11 vote.

The bill was also approved by the Senate's State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Friday.

Among those testifying in favor of the bill, were Ben and Kara Wilkoff.

"It has been a really hard time for people of color," Kara Wilkoff said.

She and her husband placed a Black Lives Matter flag in front of their house, to show love and solidarity with people of color.

"As a half-black woman, I really wanted to find a way that I could support and, all be it a very small token, a flag was a way we could do it," she said.

The Wilkoffs were told their flag didn't meet HOA rules and they would need to seek approval.

Ben Wilkoff said they spent months trying, only to be denied.

"My reaction to being denied was that this is how people are silenced," he said. "This is how people are intimidated."

Two lawmakers, Rep. Lisa Cutter and Sen. Robert Rodriguez are sponsoring a bill that would require an HOA to permit the display of any flag or sign at any time, subject only to content neutral limitations like number, size or placement.

HB 21-1310 states: The Association shall not prohibit or regulate the display of flags on the basis of their subject matter, message or content; except that the Association may prohibit flags bearing commercial messages.

"We were totally surprised," Ben said, when asked his reaction to the speed at which the bill is sailing through the legislature.

Opponents believe HB 21-1310 would force HOAs to permit any divisive or hate message.

"This bill would allow flags with "white power," "White Lives Matter," "Hitler was right," even Hitler's face right in your face," said Stan Hrincevich, at HOA Matters.

"I can't imagine the number of court cases that are going to come up when people start hanging these divisive signs, and they're out there. We've had them in my HOA," Hrincevich said, "and HOAs are going to have to be going to court to defend a bill like this, that really didn't seem to think itself through."

"I think that argument is an argument based out of fear," Kara Wilkoff said.

"I think it comes down to, do you want to live in a society of fear, or do you want to live in a society of love," Ben Wilkoff said. "We believe that by saying, 'Black Lives Matter,' that we are trying to create a society of love and acceptance."

Wilkoff credits the ACLU for the advancement of this issue.

"We learned we are not the only ones in Colorado who have dealt with this," he said. "People with pride flags, thin blue line flags and Black Lives Matter flags are fighting for free speech."

The issue has yet to come up on the Senate floor.

Wilkoff said he and his wife will be eagerly listening to the debate when it does.